Bristol

Bristol mayor tells protesters 'come up with better ideas'

Hundreds of anti-austerity protesters marched through Bristol city centre
Image caption Hundreds of anti-austerity protesters marched through Bristol city centre

The mayor of Bristol has told anti-austerity campaigners to come up with better ideas, rather than shouting from the sidelines.

Marvin Rees said there was little point in having a "black-and-white argument over cuts or no cuts".

He was speaking after hundreds of people gathered to call for justice for the victims of the Grenfell Tower fire.

A rival for his job said protest was "often the only way people feel they can make their voices heard".

Mr Rees, who took over as the Labour mayor of Bristol last year, said in October that budget cuts of £92m had to be made to Bristol City Council's budget by 2022.

Earlier this month, proposals including the end of funding for some libraries, the closure of public toilets and reducing funding for lollipop ladies were put forward to help balance the books.

Image caption Supporters of the protest said the Grenfell Tower fire showed why continued action was important
Image caption Marvin Rees said Bristol needed a 'constructive not combative' relationship with Westminster

Following the protest, Mr Rees said the city needed "a constructive but challenging relationship with government, not just a combative one".

"We welcome constructive debate, but Bristol would be better served by a positive focus on what we can achieve together, rather than a black-and-white argument over 'cuts or no cuts'," he said.

"If someone has better ideas that could really work, I'd urge them to come to the table rather than shouting from the sidelines."

Effective protest

The protest was the latest in a series of marches in Bristol in recent weeks, and organisers insisted that continued protest was vital.

Jane McDowell, from Bristol housing campaign group Acorn, said the Grenfell Tower fire "typifies austerity and why we need to put our foot down against it".

Green Party former mayoral candidate Tony Dyer said: "We need to recognise that public protest is often effective.

"This is why politicians are keen to be at the forefront of marches when they or their party are not the target."

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